Giants @ Dodgers Sept. 1, 2015: Justin Ruggiano, In A Pennant Race

A few weeks or months back, I pointed out how I still couldn’t believe that Chin-hui Tsao was pitching for the Dodgers in 2015. He’d been with the Dodgers in 2007 and essentially out of baseball since. That he wasn’t really productive hardly seemed the point; that he was somehow back in the big leagues was the story. I couldn’t really imagine a more surprising turnaround.

Giants
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
CF
Pagan
SS
Rollins
3B
Duffy
2B
Peraza
1B
Belt
3B
Turner
C
Posey
1B
Gonzalez
LF
De Aza
RF
Van Slyke
SS
Crawford
LF
Ruggiano
2B
Tomlinson
C
Ellis
P
Bumgarner (L)
P
Greinke (R)
SS
Adrianza
CF
Pederson

In totally unrelated news, Justin Ruggiano is starting in left field for the Dodgers tonight.

Ruggiano was acquired late last night from Seattle, where he’d spent most of the year tearing up Triple-A. Before that, he’d been with the Cubs (2014), Marlins (2012-13), and Rays (2007-08, ’11), where he’d arrived in 2006 after being traded from these very Dodgers, who had drafted him in the 25th round in 2004. Dig the names in this trade, one of Andrew Friedman’s first with Tampa Bay: Ruggiano was the player to be named later in the deal that sent Dioner Navarro and Jae Weong Seo for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson. Before the deal, Ruggiano was actually on the 2005-06 Double-A Jacksonville teams that included Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, and A.J. Ellis, though I haven’t gone so far to see if he suited up with all of them.

It’s a very weird thing to see him in the lineup right now, is all, and hey, no pressure, you get to return to the Dodgers against Madison Bumgarner. That’s really the point, of course; with Yasiel Puig & Enrique Hernandez injured, the outfield is suddenly lefty-heavy, and you can’t have an all-lefty trio of Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, and Andre Ethier against the lefty Bumgarner. (This is also why Chris Heisey was brought back, though he’s not been activated.) For his career, Ruggiano has hit lefties at .266/.331/.505, though most lefties aren’t Bumgarner.

In order to get Ruggiano onto the 40-man, Josh Ravin was recalled and placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Dodgers also brought up Joe Wieland, in no small part due to what last night’s 14-inning affair did to the bullpen. What else? Austin Barnes was seen taking grounders at third base before the game. Jose Peraza starts at second in place of Chase Utley. And both pitchers, Zack Greinke and Bumgarner, are hitting eighth.

But mostly, last night’s win had an enormous impact on the pennant race:

The Giants have earned enough respect that they can’t truly be counted out until the very last day of the season. But with the Dodgers at roughly 92% to 8% odds to win the NL West, it can’t be overstated how important it is to San Francisco to win tonight, with their only above-average starter on the mound. This game alone won’t make or break the season, for either side. Hard to think of many that carry more importance, though. That’s probably not a sentence you thought you’d have ever read about a game that prominently features Justin Ruggiano, a Dodger once more.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.